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Arbor Day celebrates honorees
Arbor Day pic
Dave Hinderliter shows Judy Baer, center, and Karen Armstrong an engraved rock that will be under Baers designated River Birch at Veterans Memorial Park. - photo by Chelsea Thomas Dawson Community News

A new state champion tree, submitted by Mark Short, was recognized on Arbor Day by the Dawson County Tree Preservation committee.

The Chestnut Oak measured 164 inches in circumference and was 96 feet tall, according to Tony Page of the Georgia Forestry Commission.

With more than 1,000 state champion trees in Georgia, the oak tied with one other registered tree of its species.

"I was shocked to find out it was a state champion although we knew it was a big tree," said Short, a Dawsonville resident for the past five years. "My wife had mentioned when we built on the property to make sure our driveway went around that tree and I am glad we did now."

Three other trees were recognized during the event at Veterans Memorial Park, including a 180-foot-tall Eastern White Pine, the biggest Yellow Poplar in Dawson County, which is at Amicalola State Park, and a 104-inch-circumference American Beech.

As a day set apart to appreciate and plant trees, Arbor Day has been celebrated in Dawson County for seven years, with this year's ceremony being recognized by the local board of commissioners.

"It's great to keep Dawson County beautiful with healthy trees," said Commissioner James Swafford.

In keeping with tradition, two trees were planted honoring community tree preservationists. This year's honorees were Judy Baer and Clark Beusse.

Baer, whose tree is a River Birch, was recognized because "she is always [available], even when she has had some hardships this year," said Dave Hinderliter, chair of the tree preservation committee.

Beusse, who spent more than two decades working as the Dawson County Extension Agent, was described as a "hard worker" that is "very knowledgeable."

According to Hinderliter, Dawson County has a special reason to celebrate Arbor Day.

"Dawson County has the largest percentage of private forestry ownership in Georgia," he said. "We have a beautiful county with a lot of incredible trees and we need to do a better job of preserving them."